7 Ways to Find Your Amazing Superpowers and Rock Your Life
You are so much more than the labels people try to pin on you.
After teaching creativity and self-actualization workshops for 20 years, I can tell you with certainty that you were born with special gifts that no one else in the world can express like you.
Your innate skills and passions are your superpowers. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop these intrinsic talents and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star.
But when you’re forced to conform to someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove. You’re either unaware of your amazing abilities or you hold yourself back to play it safe. Either way, you’re out of sync with your true nature, which leaves you feeling frustrated and disempowered.
The sad truth is, most of us are not leading authentic lives. We lost our way before we were even old enough to know we were getting off-track. We became slowly “adulterated.” We learned to:
- Take on family roles that don’t match who we really are
- Spit back what teachers taught us in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original
- Hide parts of ourselves that don’t seem acceptable to our social groups
Now, don’t get me wrong. Some socialization is necessary for us to grow up into good citizens. But the price for fitting in is that many of us wind up leading lives that don’t fit us all that well.
Deep down inside we think something is wrong with us, but what’s really “wrong” is the lives that we’re leading.
The good news is, when you reclaim your unique passions and talents, you become powerful beyond measure. When I was a graduate student at Princeton University studying psychology, I discovered I could sing while testing a microphone in a classroom. It took a few years to answer my musical calling, but I eventually ditched a successful career as a psychology professor to follow my dream to be a rock star.
It’s never too late to embrace your gifts and follow your heart. Here are seven tips to find your authentic superpowers and rock your life.
Your Superpowers Come Naturally to You
You may not recognize your superpowers because they come so easily to you, so you don’t think they’re special. You take them for granted because you think everyone has them, too. They don’t.
The first time it sunk in that I had musical talent was when I was forced to compare myself to other graduate students during a music perception test at Princeton (where I was getting my Ph.D. in psychology). I was surprised to learn I’d scored off the charts.
What do you do better than others without even trying? Running, teaching, drawing, accounting, schmoozing, cooking, or something else? Compare yourself to the people around you and find out.
Your Superpowers Make Time Disappear
Whenever I write a song, I seclude myself in my studio and emerge several hours later feeling content and spaced-out with a new tune that seems to have written itself. Time seems to vanish.
This isn’t true for everything I do, though. When I was a psychology professor, writing research papers was full of fits and starts. I checked the clock every few minutes, impatient to finish. It was a requirement of my job, not my superpower.
What activities really engage you and put you in the moment? The answer could surprise you.
Your Superpowers Fill You With Joy
One of the easiest ways to discover your superpowers is to note what fills you with joy — not your parents, teachers, or friends — but YOU. Be willing to experiment to find it.
“Jane” was a Fortune 500 executive who took a workshop from me because she wanted a creative outlet after work. At first she tried writing because her father was an author, but she realized she didn’t have a way with words. Then she tried drawing and eventually discovered that painting was her true passion.
What about you? What do you love to read about, talk about, dream about? What’s your favorite hobby? When I was a psychology professor I wrote “little songs” after work and dreamed of being a rock star.
What fills you with curiosity?
Your Friends Know Your Superpowers
You’re an expert at something; you may just not know what it is yet. Think about what people ask you for advice about. Odds are you have a skill or talent you take for granted that your friends cherish.
“Emmy” was a coaching client who complained she was just a “measly” housewife who wasn’t good at anything. I noticed she had a real flair for wearing clothes she looked beautiful in. “Anyone can shop,” she declared when I pointed out her knack for fashion.
I urged her to get a sales position and gain valuable work experience to develop her eye for style. I also asked her to develop a “look” for my first CD cover. She ended up becoming a successful buyer for a trendy children’s boutique.
What do your friends ask you for help with?
Your Superpowers Make You Different (Weird)
There’s no one else like you. You don’t have to try to be different. You already are. The trick to finding your superpowers is to own what makes you unique, even if it seems weird.
“Lauren,” a bored technical writer, often wore bunny slippers to class. It was clear she wasn’t your typical Silicon Valley worker bee. She told us she scribbled ideas for movies in the margins of her tech manuals.
I encouraged Lauren to focus on those marginalized writings. A year later she wrote, directed, and produced an internationally-distributed film. Now Lauren’s flourishing in the entertainment industry.
What about you? What special talents, skills, and interests make you different? My mother and colleagues told me I was crazy to leave my job as a professor, but after my debut CD produced a top 10 hit in South Africa they changed their minds.
To discover your superpowers, embrace your inner weirdo.
You Knew Your Superpowers As a Child
Your superpowers probably made themselves known to you when you were a child, teenager, or young adult. But you may have forgotten about them later in life because your parents and teachers ignored, minimized, or even attacked your authentic nature. According to Brené Brown, 42% of kids are shamed away from pursuing some form of creative expression in school.
“Pamela” was a 40-year-old wife and mother who took my creativity workshop because she wanted to be a writer. After several weeks she remembered that a high-school teacher had failed her for being original with an assignment.
She’d internalized this — thought she was a bad writer — and had given up. I told Pamela to write about the upsetting event. The next week she handed me a 20-page tome with a big smile on her face.
I played piano as if I’d been classically trained at age four but no one noticed so I stopped. What about you? What did you love to do as a child or young adult that’s been blocked or put on hold? This a major clue to your superpowers.
Your Superpowers Are Intrinsically Rewarding
If you didn’t have to worry about money — one of the main excuses my workshop participants use for not changing their lives — what would you do?
“Maria” was a police detective who wanted to retire early and travel the world. She figured she’d write travel brochures to support herself, but she didn’t enjoy writing.
I could tell Maria really liked being a police detective. I suggested she think about how to merge travel with police work. Six months after our class ended she landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police to adopt human rights procedures.
What would you do if you never had to be concerned about money again?
Whenever you go through a personal or professional crisis, feel “off” somehow, or long for a better life, you’re hearing the call to discover your superpowers. Are you ready to uncover your hidden talents and find your own powerful voice in this world?
If so, you can begin to feel more empowered right now by answering these seven questions. Let’s recap, shall we?
E asy — What comes naturally to you that you take for granted?
M oment — What puts you in the moment when you do it?
P assion — What are you curious about, enlivened by?
O pinion — What do people ask you for advice about?
W eird — What makes you unique / stand out from others?
E arly — What were you drawn to as a child or young adult?
R ewarding — What would you do for free because it’s so gratifying?
If you’re scratching your head about some of the answers, don’t worry. It only takes one question to reveal your superpowers. Just keep in mind that often the very qualities you view as your flaws are actually your greatest gifts. It takes guts to stand out in our cookie-cutter culture.
Are you familiar with the Whac-A-Mole game at arcades? The object is to hit moles that randomly pop up and force them back down into their holes. In a similar way, we often hammer down our so-called “imperfections” to blend in and gain points with society.
But what makes you different makes you strong. Following the crowd kills your creativity and crushes the quality of your life.
Bronnie Ware, the author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, found that the number ONE regret of the dying is that they wished they’d dared to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them. They regretted not discovering their purpose sooner and following their dreams. Life is short. Don’t let this happen to you! Choose to be the hero of your own story.
At this point you may be thinking, “Isn’t it a bit melodramatic to call myself a ‘hero’? It’s not like I’d be saving the world here.” However, you’d be rescuing yourself from a life that’s not right for you, and I’d say that’s a pretty big deal. Even animals can be superheroes. Sheep turn grass into wool. That’s a superpower.
Trust me. You’ve got this.
Now, take a look back at your responses to the questions and note any statement you wrote down more than once. Do you see any repeating themes?
If you find an activity that comes easily to you, that you’d do for free because you feel so passionate about it, that friends ask you for advice about, that you loved to do as a child, that makes you stand out from others, and that you lose track of time doing, well then, THAT’S your superpower.
Whew, that was straightforward…
Or maybe it wasn’t that simple. That’s because you have more than one superpower.
So, take note of any answers you thought of more than once. What are they? If you scribbled the same thing down two or three times, I’d consider them your superpowers. Try exploring one at a time. The question to ask yourself at this point is, which one sparks your interest the most right now.
Try playing with that superpower this week. Research shows that people who make time for hobbies flourish more in life and do better at work. Taking this one small step can lead you toward a rich and fulfilling life. It’s time to own your power and become the person you were meant to be.